The Methodist Church has been closed for worship from September 2020
The Early Days
Methodism in Long Whatton can be traced back over 200 years. The 19th Century saw a huge rise in the number of practising Methodists, or Wesleyans as they were called, across England and the tiny villages in North West Leicestershire were no exception. In 1829 a Chapel was built in Long Whatton behind the site of the existing church and throughout the century a large congregation was built up with a flourishing Sun-day School. Church accounts record expenses for music for their Anniversaries, Clothing Clubs, Sunday School prizes, printing of hymn sheets etc.
However by 1900 the little chapel was in a state of serious disrepair and an appeal was made for a new church describing the current premises as ‘an old square dilapidated Chapel absolutely destitute of vestry and schoolroom and almost lost up a well nigh inaccessible yard.
A site on the Main Street was found and ambitious plans drawn up. An appeal was made throughout the Methodist circuit for subscriptions, a Great Circuit Bazaar was organised and with the sale of the existing chapel and land the funds were raised On 4th October 1911 the President of the Conference,
Rev. John Hornabrook from Central Building, Manchester signed the official form for the sale of the old chapel and site with the proviso that ‘of taking all possible means against being used for
the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors, or as a theatre or dancing or music hall.’
The proposed new site in Main Street in 1904, showing the existing Cottage, which was demolished.
The New Church
In 1912 the new Church with Entrance Vestibule, organ, vestry, kitchen and large schoolroom was built to the delight of the congregation, the village and the Circuit. The Twentieth Century saw the continuation of a very successful Sunday School with records showing large numbers of young people registering each week. Electricity was extended through the Church, alterations took place to include a new kitchen and toilets and generally improve the building.
The Church played its part during the WW2. A minute from the Annual Trustees meeting of February 1940 notes ‘proposed and seconded, that Caretaker should be increased by one shilling per week during winter months on account of schoolroom being Ambulance fort and First Aid post. By 1946 it was decided to raise the caretaker’s salary by £2 making it £12.0.0 per year.
There are many references of thanks to church members who performed the task of organ blowing and in November 1948 the Trustees ‘resolved in view of the generous gift of £105 by Mr Eli Lester for the purposes of providing an electric blower for the organ, the trustees accepted unanimously the estimate for cleaning and making necessary improvements to the organ. It was resolved that a small plate be placed on the organ with words stating that the organ blower was the personal gift of Mr Eli Lester in memory of his mother and father’.
Photograph Marie Kirkland
In January 1953 a request was made to rent the Schoolroom every Tuesday afternoon for a Darby and Joan Club meeting. The trustees decided to check the Standing Orders of the Methodist Church as regards ‘what could and could not be done’. Unfortunately by the Annual Meeting following year it was noted that the Darby and Joan Club had ‘fixed up their premises elsewhere’
The meeting the following year, Mr Boultbee was asked at a fee of five shillings a week to do the stoking of the boiler.
In 1955 water had been laid on and the copper in the scullery removed and an electric copper installed. New sink and draining board, also electric fire in the vestry.
In 1957 the Methodist Church balance sheet was ‘in a favourable position’ and agreed that £1.0.0 should be given towards extensions at Trinity Hall Girls School.
In 1961 it was resolved that the Trust should be renewed and new trustees added to the existing list bringing the number to 20. A year later a committee was formed to look into the ‘various jobs that should be done to the chapel and material to be obtained and inquiries made of work to be carried out before the 50th Anniversary. Quotations were received for cleaning walls of the Chapel and the Sunday School, painting of ceilings and exterior cleaning. The organ was removed from the front of the Chapel to the side.
Following the Anniversary Celebration on 25th August 1962 the trustees recorded ‘Everyone was very pleased with the result of the Chapel Anniversary both spiritually and financially and for the large attendances for the Services and the approximate figure of 100 for tea in the National School’.
In 2012 the Church celebrated the Centenary of the Church with an exhibition and tea
L-R: Rev Peter Brown, Rev Martin Charles, Mr Leslie Marson, Rev Diane Grice, Mrs Val Chadwin, Mr Phillip Clowes, Rev Manville Wiles